Archive for the ‘digital’ Category
20th May 13
As a product of the first dotcom boom in the mid-nineties I have always been digitally minded. I found my way to advertising through a decade of working in some of the finest interactive studios. More so than ever those two worlds have collided. Earlier this year I set out to write a book that took some of that learning and the mindset of working as a creative in a digital world.
The format of the book took on the look and feel a children’s book for learning the alphabet, with each letter referencing a way of thinking or an insight into the modern creative process. The book was lovingly illustrated by 26 of the industry’s best, and to introduced the book, I asked a simple question of five of advertising’s top creative minds. What does it mean to be a contemporary creative in today’s modern world of advertising? Below are three of the responses I received, the remaining responses can be found by reading the book itself.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” What does it mean to be a creative these days? It’s almost impossible to answer this. The tasks of a creative are unrecognisable from as little as five years ago. You must decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Certainly the days of easy three week shoots in the Caribbean are long gone. But when has an advertising creative ever had the chance to make a physical product from scratch? To really make something? Some would argue clients have never been more conservative but some guy just fell from space for a can of pop with no guarantee that his brains wouldn’t splatter across a million screens. It seems it’s wise to be foolish. One thing a creative does need to be is a hustler. There are no easy briefs any more. You have to fight for the crazy stuff. But I honestly believe in a more uniform and conservative world weird stands out, weird – like ‘Greed’ – works. Look at GaGa. When the going gets weird the weird turn pro. Is that what we are, professional weirdos? I can live with that. - James Cooper
“Creativity” is a loaded word – like “war” or “god” or “child.” It has a lot in common with these words too – for it’s a mix of heavy burden and a blinding belief in our own potential to invent. “Creative” is too often reserved for people who are quirky, strange, tattooed and/or mustachioed. But in truth, everyone is creative with the way they solve the needs of the contemporary world – be they juggling numbers, whittling a good spear, or even in the conjuring of creative design and advertising. What we’re talking about here is indeed creativity in the visual, interactive and social-psychological senses. The Contemporary Creative has the ability to excite all of these with ease, telling stories and inciting action. Those before us molded clay, steel, and wood, but we flex our power with pixels and clicks, flash frames and light, code strings and sensors. We are manipulators – hopefully for good. The one trick pony creative no longer exists; instant death comes to those with narrow-minds, parochial interests or inflexibility. Inquisitiveness, fearlessness and an insatiable thirst for The New are the only real mandates for today’s creative minds. So feed your inner child. Create something from nothing. It’s a war of the senses. - David Schwarz
You can’t be of your time creatively if you’re behind in how you can express it. Nice sound bite, that. And like most sound bites, half true, half full of shit. Why it’s half shit: you can be and do whatever you want creatively. There is absolutely no right or wrong, just expression or no expression. That’s the goddamn beauty of it. Why it’s half true? If you want to have an impact, to have other people see or hear or experience your creativity, it’s a good idea to understand the times you’re living in, the mediums and formats are resonating with people – and understand the tools are available to bring your expressions to life. Know those, and all that creativity inside has a chance to be seen, experienced, and shared. Which makes you a creative person of your time, a ‘contemporary creative’ so to speak. - John Patroulis
The printed version of the book is set to be released on June 6th, however in the spirit of the open Web, I have published the book in it’s entirety as a tumblr blog. You can scroll through it contents at this url: abcbook.tumblr.com
15th March 13
Having spent nearly a decade as a judge, panelist, or an attendee at SXSW I have witnessed massive sweeping changes in the size, scope, and tone of this festival.
My earliest experiences at South by Southwest were fueled by conversations with futurists, digital pioneers, and creative folks exploring a new medium. The festival was small, unknown, and very personal. It stayed that way, and became the annual vehicle for meeting up with the community in real life. It was where we could hear what everyone was thinking, doing, and more importantly what they were feeling. It was about those people and how they were helping shape the Web.
A few short years later the advertising agencies began to take note of SXSW and began attending in force. The first wave was of course the recruiters, hungry for “Digital Talent”. The next wave was comprised of creative, planners, strategists, and account people. There were agency parties, panels, and booths. The festival became too large to curate by a group of people who for the last few years were all on a first name basis. Enter the “Panel Picker”.
There is of course something admirable to be said about allowing the public to decide upon the content of next year’s festival, however the “public” had shifted from this group of connected people helping to shape the Web to a network of agencies, corporations, top-tier brands, and holding corps. This without doubt, was going to impact the tone of the festival. And it did.
SXSW panel content began to drift away from personal reflections of the past year and projections of the years to come. They became a platform for agencies and brands to build a presence within the interactive community. A large percentage of the conversations became pitches and the passionate thinking about the future went silent.
This year felt different. There was a visible shift. This year there was another generation emerging from within the festival. The maker’s movement had arrived and they took on many forms. Elon Musk gave an extremely illuminating talk. There were 3D scanners and printers that created our century’s first glimpse at the idea of teleportation. There were also production shops like Deep Local best know for Nike’s Chalk bot talking about the path of his company from Punk Rock to CEO. There was definitely a something new in the air. The festival subconsciously rebooted and began focusing on the future again.
“No one wants PCs” – Bruce Sterling
This year during Bruce Sterling’s closing remarks, he made clear the circle of life in technology. For every innovation and advancement we embrace, the previous piece of technology it replaces dies. He explained the importance of recognizing and owning that. Bruce also went on to talk about focusing on the people behind the tech, and the importance of the thinkers and makers vs. the end product. It was during this talk that made the turning point evident. We need to embrace the idea of making, but making in such a way that we were aware of what we are replacing. The only constants in the equation are the individuals behind the advancements.
The festival left me thinking that next year would mark a return to that original “futurist spirit”. Sure there will be a huge brand presence, but the content, the core of the SXSW will once again be about the future through the lens of technology and more importantly through the voices of those leading the charge.
29th January 13
Who we’re after
A digital analyst who knows their way around analytics and social metrics but who has that sixth sense to sniff out fresh insights that have real strategic value. We need someone who can focus on the story that the data are telling them, not just crank out campaign reports.
What you’ll be like
Smart, curious, passionate and a great communicator. Someone who will be comfortable working alongside strategists, creatives and clients. An analyst that can explain complex measurement and analysis in plain and simple language. You will love being a digital specialist but you will be able to see the bigger picture and you will understand that whatever tools we use to gather our insights we are ultimately seeking to understand consumer behaviour and motivation.
- In depth knowledge of digital analytics tools (eg Sysomos, Google Analytics, Comscore) and the creative use of free digital insight tools
- Ability to bring the numbers to life and tell a story with data from different sources
- Appetite and ability to translate insight into strategic recommendation
- Experience of effectiveness measurement and KPI tracking
- Desire to work in a creative environment with creative people
- Entrepreneurial: actively seek new opportunities to gather insights and help teams benefit from digital intelligence
- Good people skills and ability to build relationships across all disciplines
- Other key attributes: Hardworking, energetic, collaborative, good organisational skills and cultural knowledge
If this sounds like your kind of job, we want to hear from you. Please send a cv, details or link to email@example.com
21st October 11
Author: Adam Powers, Head of UX, BBH London
This week ex-Morgan Stanley research analyst, now at KPCB, Mary Meeker delivered her latest Internet Trends presentation. As always, Mary’s distillation of trends is always good value and genuine insights are peppered throughout.
For the time starved amongst you, here are some highlights:
• Though still with some ground to make up, it’s striking the number of Chinese and Russian internet companies popping into the global top 25.
• What’s more, between 2007 and 2010 China accumulated 246million new internet users – that is more than exist within the USA.
Mobilising the people:
• Mary notes that even in recessionary times breakthrough technology and services can breakout. One need only look at the extraordinary first weekend sales of Apple’s iPhone 4S to confirm this.
• 2010 QTR 4 saw more mobile devices (which includes Tablets) sold than PCs and signs that Smartphone sales outstripping feature phone sales in US/EU
• That said. still enormous unconverted user base with 835 million Smartphone users against 5.6 billion mobile device subscribers.
• Apple getting plenty of headlines right now, but it’s Android mobile devices with the remarkable quarter on quarter ramp up – jumping from 20million to 150million units shipped in between quarters 7 and 11 post-launch.
• Global mobile success story continues with app/ad revenue up by a factor of 17 between 2008 and 2011 to a figure of $12billion.
• Meeker calls out the latest trend in the evolution of human computer interaction being from text command lines to graphical user interfaces (GUI) to natural user interfaces. Yes, Steve gets a name check too.
Cash is no longer king?:
• E-commerce story continues to be one of growth through tough economic times but plenty of room to grow.
• Again the big story is growth in mobile commerce with ebay and PayPal doubling or more their gross mobile sales/payments since 2010.
• The uplift in mobile e-commerce activity has been of particularly benefit to local commerce through the plethora of location aware discount offer aggregators.
Power to the people:
• Meeker identifies overarching mega-trend as the empowerment of people via connected devices.
• She references the Twitter traffic patterns post Japanese earthquake, the fact that 200million Indian farmers currently receive government subsidy payments via mobile devices and 85% of global population are now covered by commercial wireless signals versus 80% being on electricity grid.
29th September 11
Author: Pablo Marques (@pablo_marques), Creative Director, BBH London & BBH Labs
A few hours ago we introduced Weetakid to the world, together with his arch-enemy, Evil Eater. The game is a playful execution of Weetabix’s brand strategy and a great example of an idea as a direct solution to a clear business challenge.
Weetabix’s boxes are making into families’ cupboards in great numbers, but they are just not making it out of there often enough.
If we could increase the number of times the box makes it to the breakfast table we would be able to increase consumption and sales.
So Weetakid was born to do just that. It is a game targeted at kids, especially those from 7 to 11 years old, as they are the gravitational centre of the household during the busy hours of our morning rituals.
In the game, kids take control of Weetakid, a creature who has just seen his little world robbed of all its energy by Evil Eater, the galaxy’s villain. The game involves a quest to retrieve the items stolen by the Evil Eater which can be found through playing a number of engaging mini games.
But Weetakid like any other kid, needs energy, especially if it is going to travel the galaxy to rebuild its world. So every morning kids will need to feed Weetakid to ensure that they both have a day full of fun and adventure.
To feed Weetakid, players will need a box of Weetabix. And that is what makes the idea so special.
To enable the interaction between the the product package and the game we’ve used a set of technologies more notoriously known as Augmented Reality.
That link between box and game is a special and symbiotic one. It doesn’t get in the way of the experience, but actually enhances it. And it does it in a way that not only helps us solve our business problem but also enables us to start driving consumer behaviour to a place closer to our brand messaging, Weetabix is your fuel for big days.
The pack has also become the place in which we are launching the game. With widespread distribution and wide readership (the back of pack is arguably one of the most read items in the household) it will be a perfect way to reach our audience and promote the game.
A multi layered production challenge
Weetakid, albeit a small game, was a big integrated production puzzle that involved many different disciplines. We had to create bespoke songs, write films, direct and record voice overs, create characters and animations, design a game and make a website, among other things. And we had two months to do everything.
We had two amazing integrated producers from BBH working on it and coordinating the whole joint effort.
As Dani Michelon (@danimichelon) our lead integrated producer on the project puts best:
“By the time we contacted our partners we had gone a long way into the game already, we had game flowcharts, schematics and storyboards. We had a good picture of it in our heads but there was still a lot to be done to make it reality and it was humbling to see how all the people involved collaborated so well. It was great fun to work on it and see it coming to life.”
Firstly we contacted Yum Yum London (@yumyumlondon) and worked with them to develop the characters and animations to bring our universe to life and to design the back of the Weetabix boxes.
Secondly came Radium audio (@radiumaudioltd) to create the amazing music that players will enjoy in the game and North Kingdom (@northkingdom) to actually put the game together and code all of that magic in.
We also engaged society46 (@society46) who designed our Weetakid website.
And finally The Mill (@millchannel) helped us produce our trailer.
So after many long weeks and nights we pulled the game together; an effort of epic proportions. It was a clear labour of love and the amount of fun myself and the creative team (Felipe Guimarães @think_felipe and Lambros Charalambous @creativelamb) felt borderline illegal.
We hope you and your kids can enjoy playing it as much we enjoyed making it. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Full project credits
Creative Direction: Pablo Marques (@pablo_marques) / Dominic Goldman
Art Direction: Felipe Guimarães / Pablo Marques / Yum Yum London
Writer: Lambros Charalambous
Game Design: Pablo Marques / Felipe Guimarães / Lambros Charalambous
Lead Producers: Daniela Michelon, Jo Osborne
Strategy Director: Nina Rahmatallah
Business Director: Nick Stringer
Team Manager: Luke Algar
Legal: Henry Rowan-Robinson
Character Design / Awesomeness: Yum Yum London
Music / Sound: Radium Audio
Sound Producer: Sam Brock
Game and interface programming: North Kingdom
Trailer edit: The Mill
Website design/production: Society 46
9th September 11
Author: Calle Sjoenell, Deputy Chief Creative Officer, BBH NY
These are probably words that will haunt me forever, but I must write a tribute to the microsite, currently going through a Phoenix-like transformation known as the web app.
The microsite was originally created to capture a single minded idea in one destination. So sharp and elegant in its purpose, the concept spread and made everyone visit.
For me, it started with IKEA’s Dream Kitchen, one click and hold and I spun in a whirlwind of kitchen options. Minimal input, maximum output, the product at the dead center of the idea. And it sold truckloads if kitchens.
But as with all great ideas, there where thousands of bad executions, wasting clients’ money with little to show in scale or engagement as a result.
Then, of course, marketers had to make a rule about it. We can only build things where the audience is already hanging out. “Fish where the fish are,” and all that. This is in fact a worse sin: creating a blanket rule that microsites don’t work. It’s like saying investing in Internet companies doesn’t work.
This is why I’m musing over the next marketer and publisher obsession on the Internet: the web app. The functionality of HTML5 and its related technology brings us out of the tyranny of page to page style navigation on the web. We will probably laugh at our text and picture based catalogue websites in a few years, a world where each step took 10-15 seconds of mental processing to solve. The web app brings single minded functionality with new interactive capabilities. Just look at the web app versions of Tweetdeck, NY Times and Angry Birds and you see the potential. Eerily like a microsite.
But we can never forget the cardinal rule of communication that now rules all media channels, even TV.
If you make something great, they will come (or watch). Otherwise, they won’t.
Damn, did I just make a blanket rule?
Long live the microsite.
16th December 10
The good people from the Cristal Festival (held in Crans, Switzerland.. not a bad place to be at this time of year) got in touch a few months ago, asking me to join a panel today with two very smart ladies, Fernanda Romano (Euro RSCG’s Global CD for Digital & Experiential Advertising) and Patou Nuytemans (Chief Digital Officer, Ogilvy EMEA).
We were each asked to come with an answer to the question that’s the title of this post. My response – a super short presentation and what was said to accompany it – below.
When I first heard the question, the answer felt pretty obvious. An immediate YES. Let’s kill it stone dead, with fire, right here, right now. Both Fernanda and Patou argued with absolute certainty that this should be the case, letting a series of integrated award entries from a single telco in Bahrain (yes, that was the point…) do the talking.
Personally, my response was driven by the fact the word feels both outmoded AND it suggests unnecessary complexity; a separation between “digital” and “analogue” that’s vaporising before our eyes. Even before analogue TV channels are switched off forever (in the UK in 2012), we all know audiences flow freely between on and offline and expect to see coherency from brands, wherever they find them. This blurring is only going to get more extreme, until we don’t even notice the difference. In fact, I’m fairly convinced we’re the last generation to even care.
Continuing in this vein, I borrowed the oft-quoted Charlene Li’s statement at SXSW in 2009 that “[digital] social networks will be like air”. Businesses need to prepare themselves for a future where open, hyper-connected networks are the norm. Talking about “digital” vs everything else out there is arguably unhelpful, reminiscent of a past when digital was an after thought and treated as a channel (“okay, we’ve got our big idea, now let’s do some of that digital stuff!”). Now that digital underpins much of what we do, it becomes next to meaningless as a descriptor.
Or does it? Before we draw the knife to kill the word, let’s just hold on a minute. If we stop using the word digital, what would replace it? How would we describe the creative canvas and media environment in which we operate? Note: ‘post-digital’ is not an option.
Taking a step back, there’s nearly always an answer somewhere in history – as Russell Davies’ reference to post-war England in his Post Digital apology perfectly encapsulates – or better still, given I was asked to talk about killing something, let’s learn from Mother Nature.
There’s a natural rhyme and reason to the flow of things in nature. Put incredibly simply, all living things experience at least two of the following during their lifetime: birth, sex, death.
Where are we *really* in the cycle of digital’s life? Actually, I’d argue we’re somewhere just after birth.
We’re certainly no-where near approaching maturity. Like virgins discussing sex, we’ve boasted about nearly doing it, thought we may have done it (not entirely sure) and excitedly talk about what it’ll be like when we’ve done it, you know, A LOT. There are people who are legitimately experienced, but most of us aren’t. Not in the “10,000 hours logged coding” sense of the word.
Sure, we don’t all need to know how to code brilliantly in order to qualify. Although I’d like to suggest we might want to learn a little. Ad agency creatives ten years ago didn’t need to be directors, editors or lighting cameramen to write great TV scripts. However, they’d lived with telly and newspapers their whole lives and learned the craft of writing, design and art direction before they ever dared set foot inside an agency. Likewise the UK’s IPA has stacks of papers which prove the effectiveness of advertising, yet would be the first to admit the real ROI of digital activity is still in its infancy.
Until the industry at large has a universal understanding of what it takes in terms of craft and intelligence to deliver *outstanding* digital work, suggesting we should ‘kill digital’ feels grossly premature.
In writing this, I’m reminded of Iain Tait’s last column for NMA just last month, in which he protested with good reason:
“Digital may be everyday, but it’s not effortless… It’s time to stop all the nonsense about trying to call this stuff this or that. Only thing that matters is whether it’s good or not. The only thing more stupid than all the word-monkeying is denying that technology, code and making things out of bits and bytes is important.”
I’ve got a lot of sympathy with this for a bunch of reasons (as I’ve said before here, a favourite post of mine is The Tragic Death of Practically Everything), but in the main I’d like us to show digital some respect. Yes, it informs everything like air, but that doesn’t make it easy to breathe.
In short, I’d like our industry to be allowed to reach its potential in terms of digital skill. Not recognising the particular craft skills and necessary time on the clock runs the risk of arresting our collective development. Let’s not let that happen.
17th November 10
Every year Mary Meeker from Morgan Stanley amazes us with her State of the Web presentation, and this year is no exception. The presentation is immensely valuable to our profession because it highlights shifts in internet culture and identifies opportunities for businesses and marketers alike.
The most provoking part of the presentation is the Disruptive Innovation slide. PSFK had a great blurb on describing the importance of this theory:
Disruptive Innovation is what’s to blame for the success of smaller, nimbler but sometimes cheaper products or services that manage to disrupt the success or complacency of larger, traditional brand players. Think of Amazon’s continued growth and eventual ‘breaking’ of Barnes & Noble, or Netflix’s killing of Blockbuster. Meeker’s presentation lays out two ways in which this disruptive innovation can happen
The two ways that Disruptive Innovation can happen. The first is a Low-End Segment Strategy by offering a product or service at a very low cost and then move up market. The second is called a Non-Consumption Strategy which basically means true innovation where consumption didn’t exist prior to the product being available.
We have the presentation embedded here for your enjoyment. Please tell us what you found interesting? What worries you about this data? What excites you about this data?